Criteria - En Garde (Cover Artwork)


Criteria: En GardeEn Garde (2003)
Initial Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: maverickScott
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Stephen Pedersen - always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Here's a guy who was a founding member of Cursive, playing on everything they did up until their untimely demise in 1998 when Tim Kasher got married and moved away. Pedersen chose to spend his downtime going to law school at Duke Univers.
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Stephen Pedersen - always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Here's a guy who was a founding member of Cursive, playing on everything they did up until their untimely demise in 1998 when Tim Kasher got married and moved away. Pedersen chose to spend his downtime going to law school at Duke University.

We all know what happens next. Kasher gets divorced, reforms Cursive sans Pedersen, and is currently acheiving success they never imagined.

So what happened to Pedersen?

While at Duke, he formed a band called the White Octave. The White Octave put out two records, one on Deep Elm and one on Initial. Live, they were a force to be reckoned with, but recorded, the fire just wasn't there. It didn't help that Stephen still hadn't really figured out his vocal style, and as that's always a big selling point for bands, the White Octave didn't do too well.

Then they broke up, Stephen moved back to the now-cultural hotbed that is Omaha, and spent the days watching all his old friends receive more and more praise for doing something he once was a part of.

If I were him, I'd be pissed off too. And if I were pissed off, I'd record this album.

Each of the ten tracks on Criteria's debut are full of raw, emotive lyrics put to intensely catchy rock music. Lines like "I started a band that can't break up / 'cause it's down to one man" and "I know I'm second string in this town / and I'm fine with it / I'm down in the basement trying to make shit up" [in the devastatingly good "It Happens"] really expose the open wounds Pedersen has been nursing since Cursive's rebirth, it seems.

I'm not really sure what to compare this to, as while there are influences present, it doesn't sound like much of anything else out there. I do get a very strong Pinkerton vibe from a lot of the disc, just from how open it is. Essentially, the album is simply a half hour of one man pouring his heart and soul into the words he sings and the rock he plays. There is nothing fake about Criteria. It's the best work Stephen Pedersen has done in his musical career, and frankly, I think I might like this album even more than the new Cursive album.

Like woah.

The Coincidence
Mainline Life
Play On Words


People who liked this also liked:
Operation Ivy - Operation IvyRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyBear Vs Shark - TerrorhawkDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeBear Vs Shark - Right Now You're In The Best Of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right...The Gaslight Anthem - HandwrittenAt The Drive-In - Relationship Of CommandThe Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteBanquets - Top Button, Bottom Shelf

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (October 10, 2005)

great record, definately one of the essential rock records

Anonymous (August 16, 2005)

waht does en Garde mean?

Anonymous (February 16, 2004)

ah, this record is incredible! how do you stop listening to it? i was looking for lyrics today but i cant find them anywhere. anyone know?


Anonymous (January 5, 2004)

yeah seriously scott, i'm going broke,
damn i wish i could see cursive and criteria play together

Anonymous (October 12, 2003)

This is very good stuff, reminds me of a laid back At The Drive-In.

Anonymous (October 6, 2003)

Better the the ugly organ. White octave was an amazing band, one of my favs, and this new stuff by peterson is makeing its way up there. I will wait for another album before i say if its better then the white octave. Everyone needs to own this album.

Anonymous (September 6, 2003)

good shite

CallingLondon (August 29, 2003)

fuck. first the weakerthans, now this. you know, i gotta save some money for pot, too. always makin me buy cds...

Anonymous (August 25, 2003)

for some reason 2003 is shaping up to be a way better year for music than past years. very very cool.

Anonymous (August 25, 2003)

fuck that, white octave menergy is one of the TOP 10 albums i own

Anonymous (August 25, 2003)

just got the cd, stephen is my hero

dignin (August 24, 2003)

I always liked white octave songs but I never went to buy anything by them. But these criteria songs are all great, looks like Ill have to throw down some more money. Is anybody else on this site spent a ridiculus amount on new cds this year? And to think modest mouse and some other good stuff is still to come out.

Anonymous (August 23, 2003)

Wow this is pretty good.

Anonymous (August 23, 2003)

Buy it buy it buy it. It's easily one of the best records this year.

burstandbloom (August 23, 2003)

Now you must die.

Anonymous (August 22, 2003)

... Seriously, I don't understand the obsession with Tim and his fucking life story. He's a fucking no talent bum.

Anonymous (August 22, 2003)

Well if you liked it more than the new cursive I'm so going to buy it.

Katie4213 (August 22, 2003)

amazing album. funny that critera is touring with cursive in the fall on the west coast.

Anonymous (August 22, 2003)


maverick (August 22, 2003)

My bad, duder.


PS - your jersey is on the way, I'm super fucking lazy. My apologies.

Anonymous (August 22, 2003)

Scott you've done it again -- asshole, now I have go out and spend more money. Quit introducing me to such amazing music, thanks.

- Scott
(The RTV cart is full)

Tim-PunkInternational (August 22, 2003)

Strange ... I've read so many good reviews of this album. But I'm not feeling it at all.

maverick (August 22, 2003)

Yeah, I'm so excited they're a real band now, and not just Stephen recording everything himself or whatnot.

Although I was slightly disappointed when I found out that news, as I seriously was ready to email him and say "I love your record, let me be your drummer." Oh well.


travis (August 22, 2003)

nice review. isnt this album fucking incredible? cant wait to see him/them open up for cursive and the blood brothers.

Anonymous (August 22, 2003)

i like what i hear. i'm gonna check this out. good show.

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